Volume 97, Issue 3
Thursday, June 5, 2003

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R.I.P. Convocation

Waking up at seven in the morning, spending money on clothes that make you look like a penguin and sitting in an uncomfortable chair listening to strangers in Halloween costumes drone on about the virtues of a university education.

Is it a) a frightening nightmare or b) convocation?

The answer is both.

This past week, thousands of Western students strolled across the stage in Alumni Hall to receive their degrees. But how many truly care and how many really wanted to be there?

Convocation, as many delusional people cease to realize, is considered a joke by the majority of students on campus. Students would much rather sleep for an extra three hours or tan in the beautiful summer sun than participate in the rigmarole of convocation.

Convocation is for the parents of graduates, a time when they can thank God their child "became" something and isn't strung out on crack in a downtown alley. Most graduates are forced to attend, sometimes by gentle persuasion and in other cases at gunpoint.

If you're looking for evidence, just take a look at the amount of graduates who fail to attend. Perusing the program, you're expecting to wait until hell freezes over before they are done shuffling the graduates across stage, but are surprised (pleasantly?) when large percentages of a faculty's graduates don't actually step on stage.

And the university doesn't exactly make the spectacle more bearable. They start by charging $24 (where is that money going?) for a cap and gown after you've spent the past four years living below the poverty line to support the fat cats in the university's brass. The entire idea of wearing a grotesquely unappealing outfit is completely counterproductive to the university experience – to learn to think on your own and decide for yourself how you act and appear to others. Where is the graduate in the hoodie and jogging pants? That graduate needs a gold medal.

After you've completely humiliated yourself in the penguin suit, you're forced to line up and be herded across stage like a group of cattle – follow the leader, not lead the future.

And then, the university ironically expects the conformists to kneel down in front of the chancellor, Eleanor Clitheroe, to get a sash placed on their shoulders. If anyone should be kneeling, it should be Clitheroe kneeling in front of the graduates, praising them for supporting Western's wallet.

It's about time convocation was examined and deemed worthwhile or not, or at least improved to congratulate the graduates, not steal more money, turn them into farm animals and force them to bow at a strangers feet.

Fortunately, graduates do have one thing to look forward to: they will never have to deal with university dictatorship again. That is, until the Alumni Association starts hunting them down with outstretched hands.



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